Hope-o-meter

One of the biggest things that biblical counselors try to do by God’s grace is impart hope.  Not of ourselves, but hope in a person – Jesus Christ.  I will frequently ask people “How is your hope-o-meter?”  Yes, it’s kind of a silly question, but it’s a way to gauge how hopeful they are.   Usually, when everything is hitting the fan, the hope-o-meter is very low.  But as we go thru God’s word as we see the glorious gospel of Jesus expanding before their eyes a funny thing happens – Hope emerges, and slowly but surely the needle on the hope-o-meter rises!

A Christians hope is not a fickle, tentative hope (like “I hope I get a pony”) it’s rather a confident expectation of what is to come, based on the person and work of Jesus as recorded in His revealed word – the Bible.

One of the clearest and most encouraging verses on hope is Romans 15:13 –

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope.

There is a prayer, there is proof that God is the God of hope.  Easter is drawing closer…our hope is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus.  He rose from the dead, literally and so we to can rise to a brand new life in Jesus, because of what he did.  Check out Romans 6 – thru faith we are united with him into his resurrection.  Leave our old life behind and start over!  There’s hope!  Unfortunately, there is a bit of a warning implicit here – there is hope in no other name, no other process.  Everything else is just putting a band-aid on…real hope, real lasting change, real healing is only found in one place:  Jesus.

So what if your hope-o-meter is low?

  • Pray – literally pray Rom 15:13 out loud. Yes, out loud, trust me, it makes a difference.  “I pray that you, the God of hope, will fill me with all joy and peace in believing YOU, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I would abound in hope.”
  • Meditate on this truth
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.  Pray, mediate on that verse…
  • Find other verses and sections of scripture that deal with hope! (Hint…Romans has a lot – see Rom 5:1-5)
  • Dwell on the truth of the Gospel and literally preach it to yourself.  Read his word, read books about the gospel, like Milton Vincent’s “The Gospel Primer
    • For a quick link to the prose version, you can click to this blog here
  • Find a gospel-centered church that preaches the whole word of God and find some encouragement in Godly brothers and sisters…perhaps they may even have biblical counseling available.

How is your hope?

Jacob | Weasel

OK.  Done with Job…now back to Genesis.

We are now well into Abraham’s story, his calling by God to create a nation…eventually from which the Messiah will come.  Abraham had Isaac and Isaac had Jacob and Esau. Esau was born first, followed by Jacob who came out all hairy & red faced grabbing his brother’s heel.  (Gen 25:25).

After getting his brother’s birthright for a bowl of hot stew he then moves in and tries (and succeeds) to get his Father’s blessing while he was on his deathbed.  In a routine that you just have to read to believe that his mother cooked up he has an interaction with his father Isaac that caught my eye.  The deal was that Abraham knew he was close to death, his vision was just about shot, and he sent Esau out to hunt for game to then prepare for him a favorite, most likely last, meal and give Esau the final fatherly blessing.  Rebekah hears about this, and favoring Jacob, she fills him in and cooks up this whole plan to deceive Abraham into thinking that Jacob was Esau and then get his blessing on his death bed.  Nice, right?  And you thought your family was messed up?

Well,  the plan succeeds.  Jacob even puts on animal fur and Esau’s clothes to fool his dying blind father.  When he shows up with a nice fresh meal rather quickly in Esau’s place, Abraham questions him – (Gen 27:20-21) “How is it that you have found it so quickly my son?” He answered “Because the LORD your God granted me success.”

Hold the phone.

The LORD “your” God.

Not “my” God…”your” God, Dad.

Fast forward to Gen 28.  After the rouse is exposed and Esau, rather naturally, wants to kill Jacob, he flees to live with his uncle.  On the way there, he has a dream…in which the LORD GOD himself appears to him.  What is Jacob’s response?

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
(Genesis 28:20-22 ESV)

Wow.

That’s a touching vow.

Can you put any other conditions on God there, Jake?

If you do this…and if you do that…THEN you will be MY God.

Before we condemn this weasel…let’s stop and look in the mirror.  Do we put conditions on God?

“If you do this for me God, and everything goes well…etc…THEN I will let you be my God.”

Are we happy with God when things are going right, but then when stuff goes bad, we are like “WHOAH. What the heck, God?  This doesn’t happen to me…”  In other words, we’ll serve God when things are going well for us…but when they aren’t…do we still serve him with the same joy and passion?

I struggle with this too.

But enter the cross.

God has called us to himself thru Jesus Christ – his person and his work.  His perfect life of obedience and his sacrificial substitutionary death on the cross for the punishment I deserve.

When bad stuff comes, and it will, we need to fight in faith to see the cross.  To see that as the most important thing, the biggest reminder that God loves us and poured out his love for us by making a way for us to be reconciled to him.  Then, that will make us want to praise Him and bring him glory out of thankfulness in our hearts to God for the hope we have in Christ.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 ESV)